Warren Buffett said on Saturday that the US economy is doing much better than he might have expected early in the coronavirus pandemic, which is good news for his conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway.
Mr. Buffett (90), an investor and tycoon, said the economy has been “resurrected in an exceedingly successful way” by monetary and fiscal stimulus from the Federal Reserve and the US Congress, speaking at Berkshire's annual meeting.
“It did the job,” he said, adding that 85 percent of the economy is in “super-high gear.”
Mr. Buffett, on the other hand, bemoaned how an explosion of so-called special-purpose acquisition firms and novice investors looking for fast profits has turned markets into a "casino," making it difficult for Berkshire to deploy more of its $145.4 billion cash hoard.
Mr. Buffett joined Berkshire's 97-year-old vice chairman Charlie Munger to address more than three hours of shareholder questions at the annual meeting in Los Angeles.
Berkshire Hathaway has canceled its annual shareholder weekend in Omaha, Nebraska, for the second year in a row. The event typically draws about 40,000 shareholders.
The meeting was streamed live on Yahoo Finance on Saturday.
As fear of Covid-19 fades, more people get vaccinated, stimulus checks are invested, business constraints are relaxed, and trust in the economy increases, many of Berkshire's thousands of operating units have been rebounding.
According to some economists, the US economy will rise at its fastest pace in nearly four decades in 2021.
When asked about the state of the economy, Mr. Buffett said, “People feel good.”
“It's the most intriguing film Charlie and I have ever seen.”
Mr. Munger, for one, downplayed concerns that the US Congress and White House would lift the corporate tax rate to 25 percent or 28 percent, saying it wouldn't be the "end of the world" for the holding company.
Mr. Buffett was noticeably more upbeat this year than he was at last year's annual meeting, which occurred early in the pandemic.
Berkshire Hathaway also said it sold $3.9 billion more stocks than it acquired, despite owning $151 billion in Apple Inc and Bank of America Corp.